One of Europe’s most attractive Christmas markets, Budapest’s downtown Basilica Advent Fair has just added eco credentials to its revered annual offering of ice skating, quality festive treats and 3D lightshows. We sent our top photographer Sándor Csudai to capture this year’s scenes.
Perhaps overshadowed by Budapest’s larger Christmas market on recently renovated Vörösmarty tér, the colourful Yuletide fair in the shadow of St Stephen’s Basilica is still thought to be the best in the city.
The pretty square of Szent István tér provides a more relaxed and traditional atmosphere, with wider spaces for the rows of well-organised stands. A variety of exhibitors offers an exciting range of desirable gifts.
The 3D lightshow is the highlight of the market, projected onto the historic façade of the Basilica. Back in the day, the Vatican would have had to approve this feature, which tells festive and religious stories with amusing animations. During breaks in the show, your can request your own images to be screened, and visitors can take selfies in front of it as a souvenir or to send to friends for Christmas.
According to organisers, there were around 800,000 visitors in 2018. Now, they are shooting for the magic million, ahead of the considerable competition in the region.
The ice skating rink is free this year as well, with instruction for children from Thursdays to Sundays. Little ones can also enjoy arts and crafts activities with animators, every day from noon to 4pm.
This year, there is also a focus on sustainability and environmental awareness, hence the 12-metre-tall artificial Christmas tree, the biodegradable utilities and plates, and the lack of straws.
On the flip side, prices are set for foreign visitors, black pudding at 1,800 forints, chimney cake 1,300 forints and a single helping of chicken breast for 2,200 forints with no side dish. A cup of mulled wine is 900 forints almost everywhere – more for a higher-quality brand.
Everything you can imagine, from gloves to marzipan desserts, wooden spoons and honey, is also available. Special attention has been paid to sourcing the exhibitors, who may only sell top-quality, handcrafted products.
District V. Szent István tér
Open until 1 January 2020: Mon-Thur 11am-8pm, Fri-Sun 10am-10pm
Special opening hours:24 Dec 10am-2pm, 25-26 Dec 10am-6pm, 31 Dec 10am-3am, 1 Jan 10am-6pm